chapter  VII
8 Pages

NAZI SCIENCE AND LEARNING

IN every German university and technical college there is a ‘Teachers’ Leader’. He is the mouthpiece of the Nazi Party, and his principal function is to make sure that ‘the scientific or other academic work of each teacher is carried out in the spirit of National Socialism’.137 Hitler has decreed that ‘when the State or Party favours a certain view, that view must be accepted as a scientific axiom’. ‘Scientific views’, according to this eminent authority, ‘are just the private views of scientists, and of no interest.’138 And the Minister of Education has assured him that ‘the German scientist is prepared to sacrifice his entire freedom in the service of the (German) race and State’.139 Hitler’s views, we are assured, are not private views like those of mere scientists. ‘Hitler has received his authority from God.’140 ‘Hitler’s word is God’s law.’141 Every scientist or scholar is just ‘an intellectual soldier of the Führer’.142 In 1898 Kuno Franck wrote that ‘absence of constraint in scientific inquiry and religious conduct is the very palladium of German freedom’.143 But now everything is subordinated to Nazi aims. Science and scholarship are mere handmaids of Nazi fanaticism. Teachers are watched by Nazi and Gestapo officials. They are also liable to be denounced by colleagues who curry favour with the powers that be. Here is a specimen of this sort of academic treachery. Speaking in Heidelberg in December 1935, Professor J.Stark said: ‘Fifteen years ago when relativity was made high goddess of science… Lenard pronounced boldly against this general madness and described the theory as nonsense. His brave attack at a Congress at Nauheim in 1920 will always be remembered as honourable to him, just as it is disgraceful to Professor Planck that he has served as Einstein’s lieutenant…. There are in Germany even now adherents of Einstein who continue to work in his spirit. His main supporter, Planck, still retains his position at the head of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society. His interpreter and friend, von Laue, is still allowed to play a part as expert in physics in the Berlin Academy of Science. The theoretical formalist, Heisenberg, who works in the very spirit of Einstein, is actually to be honoured by a call to a university chair.’144